Cultivate came out one month ago, and I believe I started reading it the next day.
For someone who has always considered "reader" to be a defining personality trait, I really struggle with the fact that it took me a month to read this.
But that's the season I'm in right now, and ultimately this is a book about seasons. I really like the way this book is structured. Each chapter focuses on a lie that we all believe (and yeah, they pretty much all applied and I think they are pretty universal) and the truth we should believe. In between, there are sections called "Grace from the Garden" and those were far and away my favorite part. They are gardening tidbits littered with parable and family lessons. While I got a lot out of Cultivate as a whole, the Grace from the Garden parts are what I will probably go back and re-read most.
The chapter that hit me in the gut talked about the lie that my life has to look like everyone else's. Comparison is a complete happiness killer and I think lots of new moms will back me up on that. From the minute I announced I was pregnant I was flooded with advice. And while most was good, and all appreciated, I figured out real quick that when it comes to parenting, people think their way is the right way and the only right way.
You almost can't help but feel like you're probably making the wrong decision at every turn. But I am trying hard to let go of comparison. I am doing motherhood my way, and choosing the things that I feel are best for me and my family. And I just have to trust my gut.
But it's not just for me, I have to do if for the other mamas as well. I realized recently that I justify so many parenting choices, without being asked. And when I'm talking with new moms, I might be making them feel like they have to justify their decisions to me. When the topic of breastfeeding comes up, which is more often than you'd think, I practically trip over myself to sputter "…hurricane evacuation… stress… no milk supply" because I am so desperate for them to know, formula feeding wasn't my first choice. I am going to try my best to stop that, because first of all, I don't have to justify myself to anyone. And second of all, I don't want to ever make another mom feel like she needs any reason other than formula feeding was right for her and her baby.
As a side note- I will probably continue to be sarcastic to the women who passive aggressively tell me breast is best while I'm standing in a store with a baby in one arm and formula in the other. I'm trying here, but I'm not a saint.
Whether it's sleep training, potty training, pacifier use, language, or motor skills, we've got to stop comparing ourselves as parents, and worse, our kids. And non-parents and expectant parents should remember to keep their words soft and sweet, lest they have to eat them later. I have certainly eaten plenty of mine. I had every intention of letting A cry it out. And I just can't do it. I think it's great if it works for some people, and I totally see the argument for it. But I can't let her cry. I can't help myself. And if in another year she's got sleep issues and it's all my fault, guess what, I'm the one who has to live with it. She sleeps through the night the majority of the time despite me helping her get to sleep, and I think she's going to turn out okay despite my lack of willpower.
I related everything in Cultivate to marriage and motherhood, because that's where I am in my life but there really is a lot there no matter where you are. Friendships, career, and community are big parts of the book and I really do think that there's something for everyone. I loved the garden metaphors and using the garden to teach so many lessons. I have somehow managed to keep a rose bush alive for about 7 months and now I fancy myself a gardener. Reading Cultivate fueled that so much. I've expanded my porch garden to include herbs, half of which are thriving, and a sunflower which sadly, along with the other half of the herbs is not.
Biggest takeaway? Good things grow in dirt. Despite the fact that we hide out dirt, sweep it out of our houses and pretend everything's shiny. Good things grow in dirt.